IT all began with the NBN Telethon, followed by Hey Hey It’s Saturday and now it is a full-time job for Newcastle magician Joel Howlett.
At just seven years old Howlett made his television debut. The Newcastle telethon was once a huge marathon fundraising event to which every optic nerve in the region was glued. After killing it in front of local audiences he went on the Red Faces segment on Hey Hey.
“After these little television performances people began to ask, ‘Could you do our kid’s party?’ or ‘Could you come to the church fete’,” Howlett said. “It snowballed through word of mouth.”
The fascination with magic began when Howlett saw a show in a shopping centre.
“If they were on for a week, I was there every day watching in awe,” he said.
“Children loved magic because it was about being powerful … The main thing is playing pretend for a while.
“Being able to pull money from the air or scarves from boxes, or rabbits from the hat.”
He has been working as a magician for 12 years, since leaving school. He works mostly in corporate events and at schools and preschools.
He said mastering each magic trick took a long time.
“You have to have patience. I still practice everyday in front of a mirror with a video to check everything is right,” he said.
He is a member of a couple of magic clubs through which tips and trade secrets are shared. But much of his repertoire has come from old books.
“Sometimes I get credit for being creative, but I am doing magic people have forgotten about,” he said.
“I inherited a collection of old magic books from one of the old timers who was retiring. There is so much in there you can bring back to life again.”
Howlett is known for his sleight of hand magic.
“It’s magic with cards, coins, bits of rope, the objects are pretty mundane but what happens to them is what excites people,” he said.
“The simplicity of it… but behind the scenes something is going on that has taken time to master.”
Howlett says he has no grand plans for the future.
“I’m just grateful to have my diary full,” he said.
Howlett will perform with soap bubble artist Bubble O7, Allan Cullen, at Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre, Warners Bay, on February 18. It is a 90 minute show, with two seatings at 3pm and 7.30pm. The show is suitable for all ages.
For tickets: “I Want to Be Like You” at trybooking.com